UK VOD TV review: The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 5 (Self Help)
Zombie Kill of the Week9
Awkward sexual encounter6
Neil Brazier | On 10, Nov 2014
Over the past four episodes, the threat of man has overtly been the focus of The Walking Dead’s fifth season. Self Help takes that and offers a new twist, as we continue our absence from Rick Grimes. Instead of the enemy being someone else, this episode looks at the enemy within – as well as throwing in a few zombies for good measure. Abraham’s (Michael Cudlitz) past is explored and the incidents that have been the trigger for who he has become are revealed. Told through flashbacks, they are engaging but curiously edited, cutting almost mid-breath to bring us back to the present. This leaves it feeling disjointed but also makes us want to go back and explore his past more.
On their travels, the group encounter a town that looks fairly untouched, so they decide to take shelter inside a library. This offers a chance for some character development, as Glenn and Maggie assess what they’ve let themselves in for by separating from Rick. For a moment, the world outside doesn’t matter. This is suddenly a love story, as the two share some real tenderness with one another. But just as you forget about all the horror the show has made you endure thus far, it throws in what can only be described as the most horrendous, eyeball-gouging scene imaginable. That’s right: it’s the series’ third ever sex scene and it’s more awkward than Glenn and Maggie’s first romp – and even more cringe-worthy than Shane and Lori’s – as Abraham and Rosita do the nasty, all with the knowledge that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is watching them.
Although you’ll still be scrubbing your eyes clean, what follows is a great scene featuring Eugene and Tara (Alanna Masterson), who has really utilised her time since we first met her with the Governor. Feeling like outsiders, the two find a shared bond with one another, their chemistry clicking.
The library provides an insight into the fragility of these survivors, who are always putting on the act of toughness, even when killing has become the “easiest thing” to do. So easy has it become, in fact, that even Eugene is doing what is necessary to survive. For a show that has run five seasons with a threat that can only be destroyed in one way, that they are still finding new and innovative ways to survive really is a testament to the show. The Zombie Kill of the Week comes during a fire truck sequence and is well executed, providing a double reminder that the zombies aren’t the only ones who are “sick inside”.
Self Help brings us a bit of everything: horror, drama, romance and comedy, with Eugene again at the centre – the focus being his haircut. Despite many people believing the series needs Rick Grimes, this episode proves otherwise. It excels in telling us the stories of Eugene and the inner turmoil that plagues Abraham. Every survivor has their own struggles, and their own secrets, but also a need for one another.
The Walking Dead: Season 5 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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Photo: Gene Page / AMC